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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  March 21, 2011 1:00am-2:00am EDT

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>> well, my tharngs to you for being part of my dream, dream
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realized i never could have imagined myself in this place at this time talking to people about a life that i had been privileged to live. everything that's happened to me i consider a gift, so when you hear, which i will tell you in just a minute, how i started, where i started from, and then realize where i am today, you too will say never in my wildest dreams, but i basically am a southern girl. i wasn't part of the great migration. we got there a couple minutes before that started. i was born in monroe, louisiana, the northern part of louisiana. it doesn't even have the romance of new orleans and all those customs, but i was brn in 1932, and you can do the math in this town right after what they called the flood of the
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century. my mother was 15 years old when i was born. i was soon as families do in the south, given the label of being a farmed out kid. the first though was the best part of my young life. i was given to my mother's middle sister. i went to live with her. she was a childless woman who wanted me very badly, so i was very, very spoiled up to the time i was about 3 and a half years old. after that, the world changed. she had tour berk low sis and died suddenly, but obviously, there were signs, but i didn't know about it. i was fortunate enough to be sent to the home where my father and mother lived except in the southern style it was a very crowded facility, i'll call it that. people came from the country when they got a job, went back
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when they didn't have one. they came from i mississippi or wherever they were living, and we all sort of bunked in together and remembering these were the depression years. what i was begin what a lot of small children were begin back in those days. there were no bedrooms for all of us, so i had what was called a palette which was my very own blankets that are put together and you sleep on them at night and roll them up during the day. it was easy being transferred from one relative to the other because i had few things to take with me. i don't remember my first suitcase until i was on the train to california. that's how i started. by the time we were ready to migrate to california, i had lived in seven different homes by then, all of them homes # of relatives, all of them people who were doing the best they could by a little girl that was
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quiet, withdrawn, and constantly finding ways to please so that maybe somebody would keep me permanently, and that did not happen. we ran into, not traditional, but some thing that probably happened to many southern blacks. my uncle, brave guy that he was, worked for a meat packing company. he experienced an accident, a serious one. one of my aunts, one the households where my aunts worked, there was a young white lawyer who heard of my uncle's permanent injuries and filed a lawsuit on my uncle's behalf. we thought nothing of it except there was a real buzz as to why a black man would ever think he could file a lawsuit against a major company in the south and get away with it, but soon we
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found that through some miracle a judge someone ruled in my oping l's -- uncle's favor. i watched the adults rejoice, and then soon that evening, the young lawyer came to let my family know that the decision had been made by some in the community that he should be tarred and feathered, and that in the southern tradition it would be best if all the men left the south, and then the plans started that evening to as quickly as possible get the adult mep out of our -- men out of our house. most went by automobile. my uncle went on a freight train, and that's how we preceded the great migration, but only so slightly. it was awhile as also custom before the women left, and then even longer while before the children left, at least my brother and i. we were sent off to arkansas to
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live with a grandfather, and that's where we stayed until my father came for me. i felt all of my life that my brother was the favorite because he was the baby that got to stay home. that was the way we came to california. i would say to my brother, i'm so glad that daddy loves you because then i get to go with you, and so that was my thought of my importance of that circle. you can see why i would write a book that is never in my wildest dreams. expgs were not -- expectations were not high of what i would become, but i think all those shifting around, moving place to place, gaining knowledge from relative to relative as to what makes for a good person, learning that dedication to work, honesty, that's one thing my aunt
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pearline could not stand. she hated a liar, and i lived with her much of my life. we moved to california. i thought this was going to be it. this is peaches and honey and all the good things, but by then there was a war, and we were living in a basement apartment like many others sharing these facilities, and there were 11 of us in this two bedroom basement apartment, but we made it. they made it. they all ended up getting their own homes and eventually i went with my aunt and her husband to live in one of the brand new housing projects, and oh, boy, we were glad to get it. for a quick minute i had my own bedroom. that was something, and as life would have it, soon after, my uncle or, yeah, my uncle's brother and six children arrived and life changed again, so i was very accustomed to change, so
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it's nothing for me to get used to the pace of being a journalist where there's constant change and constant moving around because you learn to adapt to whatever it is, and live and me continued along a path that could have been predicted. i did well in high school. i passed my sat scores very high, and i forgot one thing. i forgot about money. i didn't have anyone in my family who had ever gone to college, so by the time i realized i needed $300 to go to college, it was too late for scholarships and no one in my family had the money, so i went to work. soon after was married, soon after that, had two chirp, and started a different life until one day i grew up. when i grew up it was because i read so much that i knew so much from reading, and i loved reading, and i attempted writing. certainly, it was of the caliber
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that in those days if you got a magazine, and there were little writing contests in there. you could send it off. i don't think anybody ever answered, but it was a great opportunity for me to pretend to be a writer, and life then took a funny twist. i started to try to help women in our community, and the black middle class women were just realizing they had a place in the nonprofit world with various charities, so i start writing little cut lines for photographs that would go in the black newspapers to talk about working for the march of dimes or whatever it was and started working with a photographer, chuck willis. his dark darkroom man was phil moore, the man i had been married to for 30 years. it ended up to be a real witty
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proposition for me, and that work led to what my first page, if you want to call it that, was for "jet" magazine. i got $5 a week and that's because the bay bridge toll was 25 cents, and that was to cover to getting to san fransisco to cover events. for that, i got a job working for a black weekly newspaper, and that's where i learned a lot. my editor was a former ap reporter who spent 18 years in the far east. he just had a problem with too many drinks and finally after 18 years, ap sent him home and no one would hire him but the owner of a black weekly newspaper, and i was his only staff member, so i learned to do everything, you know, write headlines, pick up the copy, the ads, proof shoots, whatever it took to get this little newspaper published. it was while there when i had
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one the greatest surprise. i think of it now as a fun event in my life. while working there, one day, the bell rang in the front because we had no receptionist. when the bell rang, we knew somebody there. darrell, the guy i worked with, went to the front. the bell rang again, and i heard can you help me out? i said what's going on. he said, well, malcolm x is here, i don't know that he called him that, but he said he's here. i said, yes? the man with him said, well, ma'am, you know that brother malcolm don't talk to white people. i said what? he said, that's right. i said, i didn't know what to do, so i said, well, what do you want? they went on to explain that they wanted to place some copies in our paper. i said that to darrell, they
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want to place a copy in our paper. darrell said to me, well how much is it, and are they willing to pay? he said how much is it, and are you willing to pay? [laughter] we told him, and they said, we're not paying anything. they're not paying anything. so finally, darrell said, i don't have enough space, and i will have to edit it, and i repeated that, of course, for which i was told, one of them said, we can't have you do that, no, we can't have you do that. it was at that point that i turned to darrell and said they don't want to do that, and we stood there silently for a moment, and then when a smile on his face, malcolm says, i will edit it myself, and that's how -- that's my malcolm x story. i was an interpreter for two men standing two feet apart of two
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different colors who needed someone to interpret in english what they were saying to each other. i don't think anybody else had that experience with malcolm. i had been in his presence and so on as part of my job for the press, but it was a wonderful moment, and had i not been working there for peanuts, i probably would have never experienced it, but that led to other jobs with the black newspaper which then led to the idea in my mind that i wanted to go further, so i took a job -- i got a job in radio. these jobs did not come with salaries. they came with a dedication to learn, so i learned a bit about radio. finally got a clerical job that put me in a position to deal with people who sold air time. i was the traffic manager. it was clear to people i wanted to be on the airment finally the news salesman got smart, knew if
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he wanted his commercials to run at the proper time, he would find a show, and the belva davis show was born, and i had the show that was for women, supposedly i was a women's editor there, a program director at the station, and i put the show on on saturdays where all sorts of famous people would come by, and i once a month had a little lunchon where i would use the fried chicken from my sponsor, foster farms chicken, cleaned peaches from del monte, and whatever else it took to fried chicken and peach cobbler and invited women and had a studio full of people. nancy wilson would come on saturdays, and the ladies enjoyed lunch. boy, it was a fun life. then my news editor at the station invited me to go with
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him because he needed help and he was a one-man band to the national republican convention held at the cow palace in san fransisco. i volunteered to go. we couldn't get credentials because we were black. one black we knew. we were there the first day, and we got by okay. second day, former president eisenhower made a speech that came close to being racist. from that speech, of course, as today the hooligans took over, beretted the press, used language that i could not repeat in calling members of the press by name. in fact, on one very famous correspondent was arrested and taken off the floor that night. soon the attention turned to
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louis and i. we were there, and louis was a man of steel nerves or a really great actor. he said we will not be driven out. we took our time packing our gear because now we're surrounded, there's no security, we don't know what to do, then they started to throwing things at us. we still worked at a normal pace, got our gear together, started our walk down that long ramp to get down to the main floor, and by that time, things were getting a little hot because we could hear bottles hitting the floor that were being thrown over the aisle. as we were going and the one bottle got close to my head, people asked me how can you after all these years remember this, and i said, how many times have you had a bottle thrown at your head? if you have, you will remember that it happened, so my lips
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started to quiver because i thought i was really going to lose it, and louis whispered in my ear, if you cry, i will break your leg. [laughter] for some reason, that made sense to me that he would do this if we ever got out of there. the real fear came is when we hit the door in this lonely cow palace and in the dark of night whether we'd make it to the car. we did. in the car driving back, we talked about it. we were harangued, but we were people with no power and no one would be interested in our story. those guys in there have been doing a great job down south and covered dr. king. they started to move america. i want to be one of them. if i'm going to get harangued, i want power to fight back. why would i make that decision? no college, no training, no
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education, never been -- i dbt have anything to convince me that any white employer want want to hire me, but i started applying all around the place, and finally, i was doing all things a beauty pageant for black girls that i considered my civil rights work because it was my fight against miss america that denied our right to participate, so we started our open pageant. i presented the girls on television, and a writer from a daily paper wrote that surely somewhere in television there must be a place for belva davis. i acted as though that was carved in concrete and just applied to everybody and everything until finally in 1966 i read a story about a wonderful republican woman who loved
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ronald reagan and had said that if he was elected, she would quit her anchor job and go and work for him. the day he was elected and i called her boss and said i want to apply for her job. i said, well she's leaving. he said why is she leaving? i read it in the newspaper. it took weeks before he realized that indeed she had maps to go, and before she wrapped it up and the job was open, and about 70 women applied, and for whatever reason, the westing house owned chiropractic bs station -- cbs owned station had hired the only black in our area, black man named ben williams, and six months later, they hired me and so they had two black people in the state of california working on their channel of all channels, and ben and i took our responsibilities very seriously
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because we knew that we had to do well. neither of us knew anything about television, but we both had faith that what we wanted to do was a good thing for our time and our place, and that was the beginning of a television career that has now spanned 43 years without a break, never a day without a job, and that's something i'm very proud of. [applause] so this charmed life that came from nowhere, from a dream has taken me on journeys that i couldn't have imagined. i've had the opportunity to come south, to go to georgia, have my chance to do my march, have my opportunity to be spat upon, straight away in my face, my
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cute little blond gal that i ask a question of, i had the opportunity to go to the white house. i've had the opportunity to talk to presidents. i've had the opportunity to twice go to cuba and interview fidel castro. i was called upon by the labor movement to go to south africa after nelsonman dell la's -- mandela's election to work with the blacks and whites and tell them what it was like to integrate a system. we had to have separate meetings because each had their own fear. both my husband and i were the privileged people to travel in south africa for three weeks trying to talk to both sides to get them to see what was possible if you're determined to do well. i think my most memorable trip outside of this country, though,
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was to kenya and to tanzania, and i was there 1998 after the u.s. bombings of the embassy -- the bombings of the u.s. embassies there. i ended there on a fluke. i read bout the bombings and whoever read my copy wrote about the fact that 12 americans had died, and i got off the set and read the story myself, and then i found out 214 africans died and 5,000 others were injured, and it was never mentioned. i had a built tantrum. i was known for those. there was nothing to it other than a way they didn't pay attention, and so talked about it, and a few couple weeks later, i met a -- i'm at the social event, saying how disstressed i am and a young black physician of the national
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medical association said i too am enramminged about this, but i'm doing something about it. i've been soliciting. i have $250,000 of medical supplies i'm going to take to africa, would you like to come along? boy, did i want to come along, but i thought i have about a snowball chance in haiti like this book. you're gipping to understand the -- beginning to understand the title. i'm a local reporter in san fransisco wanting to go on a story that no american team is in kenya or nairobi at that time. i'm getting a little bit ahead. i petitioned and laid out the story, and i almost fell over and fainted when he said, yes, you can go. with my team, a husband, and my photographer, we took out of for
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kenya with the supplies. i started to read this to you, but i'll just tell it to you. we went there over the objection of our government. we also knew that the cia was very much focused on why we wanted to do this, so we're up comfortable, and we felt that we were truly on our own from the beginnings, but the kennians embraced us whole heartedly. i was so moved by the way they had handled the hysteria that follows those bombings. the psychiatrist of nairobi got together and on the radio they counseled people. they had call-ins, people who were injured, people who were fright ped, people who needed goods, they talked to them because it was why us, why me, and why no aid from the u.s.? they spent two solid weeks almost nightly and daily counseling the citizens of that area. when we arrived with some of the
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supplies they needed to help these people which were not available, they were all embracing. with we went to the airport to pick them up though, we found they were missing. this was the administration of president moy known for things of presidents of that time are known for e we asked about it, and nobody found it. the second day we went back, and now we're impatient because we've seep the patients in the hospital, and we know how much they need this materials that we bought, so standing there in the hanger where they were supposed to be, i was finally referred to a man that looked very important. i was told he was one the moy's sons, and i went over to him, and i explained to him, you know, we photographed this material when it was being loaded off trucks on to planes, flown here free of charge. i have videotape of those plaps taking off. i have a bill of laiden from air
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france telling me that plane landed here, and here's a list of what they say it contained, and if you don't find it, everybody in the world is going to know about this. now, how was i going to have everybody know, but we stood and stared at each other intensely, and finally with a smile, this young man, whoever he was said, we'll just wait. i will be back. shurlly enough, about a half hour later, he reappeared and said come with me. my husband thought we were coming with me to the jail because that's what he thought they did to people who crossed the government, and the ken yaps told us -- kennians told us you just disappear. we went with him and there were the supplies. the doctor, a strong brave woman, broke down in tears.
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i wanted to join her very much because the man was still looking at me, but i think for me there were many moments in my career that i could say were treasured moments, and ill talk about some of those, but that is the one that i am so grateful for my beginnings and what i learned about what you can do if you just keep pushing to the wall. my motto as a reporter always had been yesterday was yesterday. tomorrow's challenges is what you worry about. you can't take that baggage and let it drag you down. you just have to keep moving forward. if not, you'll be weighted, and they will have accomplished whatever those who don't want you to succeed didn't want you to do. that is really the motto behind 43 years of success, and that is being able to lay it down from
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time to time and move on, refresh yourself with whatever the new challenge is. we faced many in the bay area as you know. we had the jonestown murder, our mayor and supervisor killed by a fellow supervisor. we had the sla kidnapping. we had my daughter is here, found out about this later, threats to our daughter's life because of the patty herself kidnapping. we were confronted as to how much of that we should tell her and how much she should know about, but we believed it enough we moved from our home in the suburbs to a place two blocks from my office, and i can't say my daughter was a kind person during those days. she was very upset, and she left her friends behind for reasons
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she didn't understand, but those things happen, and like most black reporters, from time to time, i had my turn with the authorities, with the police department, and my son was the person who paid a price for that. it was only in fear, but he was finally arrested for making an illegal right hand turn because i was reporting on racial profiling, and i had two, three, four black police officers the story, and it was more than the department could take, so that is my journey. enough said. i hope that you will read the book. there are many more stories about many, many people and a long relationship from the beginning with the black panther party to the end. newton and i were born in the same top. our fathers knew one another, and so i had friends that helped
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them in their early days to become what they eventually became, internationally famous, but for some of the wrong reasons. i keep going further, but i'll stop, and if you have questions, i'd be happy to take them. there's a mic for anybody who would like to speak. >> hello, belva, gary ramsey. my question for you, following what you went through way back when and up to know, it seems for a time the industry was growing in terms of its representation. in the last ten years it's been almost a reversal of that. with the digital media coming in, and i mean, do you see a
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change in that, or do you think that it will have to go back to the way it was where black people have to find their own issues to get information that represents their community? >> well, we're in a business where the industry, the business of journalism has changed radically. we're still trying to figure out what the formula is for the future. we know the technology is the greatest killer of jobs in terms of reporters that are out there. we have not -- i work very closely with afra union, and for years, starting with the 80sives the eeo chair fight r for more employment. it's difficult being in an environment when the government no longer keeps statistics of who is working and who is not,
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and of all things wanted to to a degree with the republican administration something that we have not been able to build on during the obama administration, we have not found this fcc as friendly as we hoped it would be, plus that, the way jobs are described today, they're multitasking assignments. if you work print, you are still doing video and blogging and do things reporters never had to do. if you're in television, you're shooting, editing, and reporting and all sorts of things that my generation never had to do. we have the internet that offers all these blogs opportunities, so the people in charge can feel the world is open, go start your own. that's what they say. if you have the skills and the ability, but we know that universally, if we are to exist as a unit, as a country, we have to have reliable voices that we
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can trust, or how are you going to manage yourself? how are you going to manage the politics of your country if you have a right and a left press and you're left in the middle to figure out what's right and wrong. it's newspapers that closed down and gone to using the tools of the trade today. they have foundless need for people to gather information. they are just as happy to pass it around between each other because it makes the bottom line look better. it's a challenging period. it's as challenges in its own way, and in a way more challenging than it was at my beginnings because we at least had the government to turn to, and we had the equal employment opportunities committee to help us bring the first group of people in. you know what's sad about that now? a lot of those people, they are younger than me, are senior reporters, at the top of the wage scale, the way business
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works, you fire the people making the most money. they don't ask you about ability, skills, they just look at the payroll cut, so these are new challenges now, and i certainly don't have the answer to it because then i'd be beyond the circuit of that knowledge, but i do know that it takes looking reality square in the eye to stop wishing what was yesterday and figure out what tomorrow is. that's the only way you can win the battle. yes? >> good evening, quick question. do you think that the standards in journalism compare to yesterday has change in any way today? for example, when i'm reading, say, articles on line, the quality of the written word is deplorable, and half the time the content they are supposed to be covering, they are not covering the full facts, it's just jargan or bs. what's your thoughts on main
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taping the standards of yesterday, but adapting them into today's new media so to speak? >> right. no, the standards are not being met. we know that. when you can have npr make a huge mistake by getting the wrong information and trying to get it fast, that's, to me, that's a sign that we had better slow up. i think a lot of people are beginning to get that, at least a little bit. we really take gossip as news. i love social media, not that i practice it, but i think it's a great thing for people who want to connect with one another and want to be social and want to have friendships that grow. i think you should do that, but you shouldn't call it journalism. i think that -- i don't say you have to go maybe go as far as i did when i started. if i came up with a new bit of information, i had to come to my desk and say, yes, i've checked resources with this.
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i don't know people know about two sources know. much of the stuff gets on the air by here say. no, we're at a point where we're going to have to -- and we're getting into these troubled times of the republicans and the budgets and what is truth and what is not, and we've let this just float because we didn't have whatever it took to fite back. we let the foxes of the world take over and lead the discussion, and eventually i know that there are a couple of people that i'm familiar with traveling around the country trying to organize a different outlook at least on the news so that you get still the right and the left, nowhere where we should be as journalists, but i have no real answer as to what we do to make it happen. >> good evening, it's a pleasure for you to be here. >> thank you. >> i'd like to ask you a question. the 1996tele communication act
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passed by congress, did they destroy a lot? there's one station, well, like here in new york, all the other station in town. i mean, there's really no opportunity. you think the telecommunication act destroyed a lot of things? >> there were those out there working on this for a long time, they were just able to formalize it with that. i walked into a cbs station in san fransisco, there were nine logos on the door, nine operations in that one building, and it's going to get tighter with the purchase of nbc by comcast. nobody seems to know how to stop the freight train because nobody wants to be opposed to commerce and job creation. there is no job creation that i've seen that's come out of big mergers, but yes, of course, we need drk i mean, the fcc is weak at best. the law is very much on this
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side. we're almost afraid to go to the supreme court with anything because we don't want it codified that some of these actions are legal, and so we keep working around p them and lobbying and trying to do the best we can. i think as i said before, i don't mean to be a nay sayer, but i think we're in perilous times in terms of really hanging on to what those on the right talk about with the american dream and they don't really understand that that means freedom. >> ms. davis, i have to start off by thanking you for making it possible for young people like myself who want to get into journalism, particularly broadcast journalism if that's what we choose to do to have the opportunity to do it. i thank you for that. >> thank you. >> i was surprised to hear you say earlier it's difficult now to get into the industry than it was when you started out. i would have thought it would
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have been the opposite, but it seems as though for people my age now at this time who want to get into broadcast journalism that we have to reinvent things as opposed to our white counterparts because it's the opportunities that seem to be more available for them. what advise, and i know it's cliche, what advice do you have for people of color, young people who want to get into the industry, particularly on tv to sort of distinguish ourselves and become marketable in this industry? >> well, i think that's this thing that my union dreaded the fact that i say this. i think it's learning the tools of today's trade that you got to do, but you have to have in your back pocket all of the basics of journalism. good writing, you know, to be curious, to have some passion, to want to bring something to the table because that's what will drive you to tolerate the tools of the trade, but if you
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don't start with that in your heart, you don't start with that kind of expansion, then it's going to be more difficult because you won't get that inward glow that comes from having done something because you know it's right, but the tools of the business is drug so many people down. there's people in tv who dent want to edit or shoot or whatever they don't want to do, but there are few places you can go and not be required to do it, and i know the union fights it all the time. we're still battling it, you know, the one-man band, but it just seems to be lib rabbits growing everywhere. when i say tough, i meant because i had a community that fought to get me my job. they were there ready to pight, and picketing meant something. there was a commission whose job it was -- it was a report that called for the hiring of black
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americans to cover the news more fairly, so i had those tools. you don't have those tools. you're just out there in the world of commerce trying to figure out how you can fit what you want to do into the scheme where somebody will pay you to do it. what we need to do is what those other kids you talk about of other colors, except we don't have as many family members with connections that can help us grow, you know, the beginning projects, so we have to do what we always said we needed to do as black people, learn to work together more, and to find some of those people who are sitting on top of the empire state building with great jobs and big money whose going to somehow to to realize in the end, they too are black, and they need to look for product and prot├ęges and people who can tell a story. [applause]
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okay? all right. oh, one question. >> i read your book -- >> just one more. there he is. >> hi, i read your book, and you talked today very calmly and almost matter of factually about your child hoot and -- childhood and growing up and how you slept on the floor in the kitchen under the table, am i correct? >> no, i spent my high school, 10-12th grade living with my aunt. this is the crazy thing about people who are slightly nuts. we were very poor. we had a house, and it had o dining room table, and -- but there were not many bedrooms, so i was still the palate kid. from the 10th [laughter] -- 10th-12th grade i slept under
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the table. i saved money because my white girlfriends were having sweet 16 parties, and i threw myself a sweet 16 party centered around the table that was my bedroom. none of my friends knew that i slept there. i didn't even tell my close friends. that, but it just tells you what you can do and how silly you can be when you're a dreamer. >> it's so interesting because your childhood was harder than you are making it seem, and to me, it's remarkable that you've come from that to where you are now. it's just extraordinary. >> i just want to say basically my real motive in writing this book was to write it for young people who think they have barriers that they cannot cross today that because they lived in the projects, because they didn't have money, because they didn't make it to here, get this degree or the other, that they should just lay back and let the world float by. we all have an individual
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responsibility to use every gift god gave us to the best of our ability. that's it? >> one more. >> okay. >> i think one of the things that struck me and my short time, i say short time, about 20 years in the business, is you mentioned the people of color who are at the top. there are -- while there's there's a great number of people like yourself making it a part of their montra to reach back, there's an equal number of those who basically decided i got mine, you go get yours. >> yes. >> i mean, what is the psychology behind that because they don't come from my time. they are certainly older than me, and is there any way, you know, any way to turn that around and make more of them responsible for what it is that they're supposed to do? >> i sometime treat my brothers
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and sisters who come from that environment as though they were foreign students, and that's why i wrote this book. i think they need to read and hear more of that from those of us who took the long route. a lot of us were chosen for the harvard scholarships and other groups living wherever people go who are rich on these trips, and for us it's silicone valley. we have a number of very high-ranking blacks in silicone valley that you never see at anything associated with being black. i worked very hard to establish a museum in the bay area called the museum of the african di diaspra. our mayor decided we were going to put this black museum as part of the five-star st. regis hoe
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till in san fransisco. as mayor, he could get us the space, # but not make them pay for it. i was chosen to be the person as i was winding down my career to raise almost $6 million for this museum in two years. i did. it represented everything i respect, the oneness of the human race, the fact that the earliest relics of human life come from the african continent and the theories by the lead r scientists at both berkley and stanford are that, indeed, this is a true story and this museum is dedicated to telling that story, and so while i was doing that, to raise the money i thought the fat cats from google and so on would be my first ones that i would get to, you know, and they'd write the check. not one of them did. in fact, one map of color who
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bought the top floor at the st. regis hotel for $30 million, was one who i thought would be, you know, a guy that, after all, we're in the basement of the building he's in, eventually, he did give some money, but during those first years, i was so wide-eyed that i just really, you know, they had more millions than they would ever know what to do it. it didn't happen. you know, we have to look at that as educating these people too along with everybody else. >> i want to say along to thank you to you. i want to say thank you to you. i've known you for a very, very long time from the days of the beauty pageant that was an awesome experience, and i watched you connect the dots between culture and commerce and the politics, and in a way that belies the upbringing that i did
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not know about until i read this book, and before i knew it, there were tears coming down my face because i've never seen you not as perfectly poised as you are right now. it would never in my wilest dreams would i think that you had ever to endure anything that you had, and i want to thank you for being such a formidable role model and not stepping back from that, but rather embracing it and look at the bar that you have raised for everyone that you open the door for to come through after you. it's a high bar, and it should be because as much as you've done, there's still so much more to do, so i just want to say thank you, belva davis. [applause] >> thank you, thank you. [applause] and i really am grateful to all of you who've come out tonight, and i hope that you'll read.
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there's lots more to the story in my professional life that i skirted over because i know you know about those events. you know about the circumstances of it, but what you don't know is the blackness of the stories, and every one of the big incidents, something happened that was unique to the fact that i was a black woman on the scene of that story, and that's the other story that needs to be told, that we can integrate, but when we get into the newsroom, we're going to see things different, and we're going to have to fight, and we're going to have to, you know, sort of be disliked every now and then, but it's why those people whom marched in alabama and mississippi took the beatings they took for us, and we owe them. >> okay, any last questions? i'm coming.
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>> i came in to thank you earlier as someone who was in media in the bay area while you were at westing house, and you were just an up credible role model the time i was there. i want to say not only did your struggle to make it as a woman of color in news, you gave us as we were trying to get into media sales in the area, you were an inspiration to us, and i was one the few to get into media sales and ultimately worked at kpix, but we looked at you as example. belva made it in news, and we can make it in sales. thank you. >> i want to congratulate you because we know station managers come out of the sales department, so by the time i could see black faces in sales, my hopes were high, maybe one of these days. okay.
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>> okay, thank you, thank you all for coming. it's amazing. i just want to give a shoutout to sheryl who is in the audience, and just want to say thank you so much because this is a conversation we're having with our children. if you could do so much with so little, what can they do with all they've got? you know, the books are at the register. we hope that you not only get one for yourself, but pass it on to a child. we have to make this message known. we have to make these legacies clearly understood if we're going to move forward, so thank you very much for being here. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> to find out more, visit the author's website, author poet and play wright
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ishmael is on booktv april 3, live. >> there's letters that trace the footprints large and small of people from bondage to self-determination from civil war to the war in iraq and from dusty plantations to the glistening white house. the unsung slaves of soldiers, lovers, fathers, mothers, authors k activists are woven together with those of historical giants from james
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baldwin, alice walker, and tony morison, frederick douglas, and colin powell. the likely misses of the extrordz their are matched by the equally poignant letters who pen in hand share their joy, pain, ecstasy, joy, and heart ache. >> this letter is from hannah grover to her son cato. it was written june 3, 1805. my dear son, cato, i long to see you in my old age. i live in caldwell, the minister of that place. i pray you come to see your dear old mother, or send me $25, and i will come and see you in philadelphia, and if you can't come to see your old mother,
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pray, send me a letter and tell me where you live, what family you have, and what you do for a living. i am a poor old servant. i long for freedom, and my master will free me if anybody will engage to maintain me so that i don't come upon him. i love you cato. you love your mother? you are my only son. this from your affectionate mother, hannah van buskirk, now hannah grover. i have not seen you since 20 years ago. if you send any money, send it to dr. bonner, and he will diff it to me. if you have any love for your
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mother, pray, come, or send for me. i love you with all my heart, hannah van, buskirk. >> this is dated september 19th, 1858. i take the pleasure of writing you these few words with much regret to inform you that i am being sold to a man by the name of pierson, a trader who stays in northerly. i am here yet, but i expect to go before long, and when i go go, i want to send you some things, but i don't know who to send them by, but i will try to send them to you and my children. give my love to my father and my
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mother, and tell them good-bye from me, and if we shall not meet in this world, i hope to meet them in heaven. my dear wife, for you and my children, this pen can want express -- cannot express the grief that i feel to be parted from you all. >> we're taken behind the public's thought of scholars and activists. dr. martin luther king j.r.'s letter is here to his private misses, his wife. he writes from a state prison. >> this is to his wife on october 26, 1960. hello, darling.
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today i find myself a long way from you and the children. i'm at the state prison in reedsville, about 230 miles away from atlanta. they picked me up with the dekalb jail at 4 a.m. this morning. i know the experience is difficult for you, especially in the conditions of your pregnancy, but as i said to you yesterday, this is the cross that we must bear for the freedom of our people, so i urge you to be strong in faith and this will in turn strengthen me. i can assure you that it is extremely difficult to think of being away from you, my little yokie and marty for four months, but i ask god hourly for the power of endurance. i have the faith to believe that
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this excessive suffering which has now come to our family will in some little way serve to make atlanta a better city. georgia, a better state, and america a better country. just how? i do not yet know, but i have the faith to believe it will, and if i am right, then our suffering is not in vain. >> you can watch this and other programs online at here's a look at a few of the upcoming book fairs and book festivals from around the country. booktv has been bringing coverage of the virginia festival of the book with several events this week. the entire festival airs next weekend on booktv. visit for the entire
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schedule. april 1-2 the book fair in new mexico takes place. there's a variety of surplus library items and an auction on the first. this new york library association hosted event honors several writers from new york state. on april 9, booktv is live from maryland providing coverage of several nonfiction panels. is there a book festival near you? e-mail the name, date, and website of the event to you can also visit for more upcoming festivals.


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